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Two gymnasts share friendship much longer than college

BY JACK ROSSI | FEBRUARY 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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This year’s men’s gymnastics team boasts a couple gymnasts from the city itself. Redshirt junior Lance Alberhasky and junior Mitch Landau have a bond that stretches much further than college.

“We pretty much grew up together starting at a young age,” Alberhasky said. “For the most part, I, Mitch, and two other guys were usually in a group together. Mitch and I were very used to each other. We knew our strengths and weaknesses once we got to the university.”

Alberhasky and Landau both attended high school in Iowa City. Alberhasky attended the private Regina, and Landau enrolled at the public City High. Though they were separated during their prep careers, they first met at the Iowa Gym-Nest, where they were coached by the Brad Virkler, the state chairman of USA Gymnastics. Virkler has turned the local Iowa City gym into the largest boy’s competitive program in the state.

“We had a great coach growing up. The group we worked with was great and they really motivated each other. We all made it to the NCAA level which is huge because there aren’t a lot of teams out there,” Alberhasky said.

Landau and Alberhasky were not the only gymnasts to make the jump to Division 1 status from the local gym. Stanford redshirt senior Paul Hichwa, who finished ninth in NCAA high bar last April, trained with both gymnasts in Iowa City.

“It worked out that we had a great coach and guys that were committed to the sport and coming in every day and working hard,” Alberhasky said.

But while most kids want to get away from their families, Landau and Alberhasky continue to perfect their craft in the city they grew up in.

“I like it,” Landau said. “We all have different experiences because we are so close to our family. It gives us an advantage because we know the area more … If you want the college to be, it can be very separate from the city, which is nice.”

In college, their focus has turned to trying to push themselves as far as they can in the gym.

“We want to get the best of us in here and try to beat each other I would say,” Alberhasky said. “It’s kind of how the sport is. If one of us is out of line, then we will call out each other on it.”

Recruiting was a different experience for the gymnasts. Landau was set on going to Iowa for a long time, while Alberhasky finally settled on Iowa after visits at other schools.

“At the time, Iowa was a bit on the downslope,” he said. “I took other visits, but when I took my visit here I realized that this was the place for me.”


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